For this posting I will looking into editing forms in Karyn Kusama’s 2005 Æon Flux. Æon Flux takes place in a utopian metropolis used as the last refuge for humanity after a deadly virus killed off most the population. However this peaceful utopia has a dark side, people disappear off the streets and are occasionally slain by police for no good reason. The plot follows the femme fatal Aeon Flux who is a member of a secret resistance organization trying to stop the disappearances and take down the government. I consider this a science fiction noir mostly because of its main character, the overly sexual, kick-ass cyberpunk warrior Aeon Flux. She fits the femme fatal model well from her ambition to her lack of family values. The film even goes so far as to compare her to her sister Una, who has a husband and house as if to further the difference. Also the films dark ironic plot twists and tragedy are characteristic of classic film noir. Finally, Æon Flux has the anti-utopia that is usually a staple in science fiction noir.
Now I will move on to the editing used in the film. Æon Flux is a great film to talk about editing with because it has action scenes that are heavy in the use of continuity editing, as well as several flashbacks that break the time-line of the film. In a way film is sort of a virtual reality for the audience. According to Todd Berliner and Dale J Cohen virtual realities exist when our brain does not experience the physical environment directly. It essentially receives data from an outside source, in this case a film. But how does a film trick the brain into believing something is real for the sake of entertainment? Continuity editing is a prime example. Although Æon Flux takes place in a fantasy science fiction world it uses continuity editing to make it seem logical and realistic. In this scene, Aeon is sneaking up on a few guards with really bad hours. As you see in this frame she is throwing something.
The camera then cuts to a shot in-between a guard and Aeon. This implies that whatever it is she threw was aimed at the guard, hopefully just some candy or something.
Guess not! Ouch…
Hope he has dental… Anyway, continuity editing gives a sense of chronological order. Aeon throws the blade thingy, we see where it’s heading, we see where it lands, and we see the result.
To contrast continuity there is the shot montage. Keep in mind that a montage sequence does not necessarily have to break continuity however it often does as Karel Reisz would argue in the form of flashbacks that usually reveal something to the audience. In Æon Flux they are used periodically to take the audience back to the time before the disease wiped out most of humanity. First we see Trevor Current.
The shot goes to a nursery; we know that the characters are not actually there but rather that the film is revealing something.
As you can see some babies just gradually disappeared, that doesn’t actually happen so we assume that time is passing and the movie will explain why there are less and less babies.
We then jump back to Trevor’s face. He explains some stuff…
And finally we see Trevor in the past wearing a non-futuristic lab coat explaining more stuff.
Here, a montage was used to go back in time, forward a bit, back to the future, and then back to past to reveal a crucial plot point. Note the Sideburns.
I have briefly touched on the use of continuity and montage as a form of non-continuity editing. Other than that, see this film its pretty solid. Thanks!
Berliner, T., & Cohen, D. (2011). The Illusion of Continuity: Active Perception and the Classical Editing System. Journal of Film & Video, 63(1), 44-63.
Reisz, K., & Millar, G. (1968). The technique of film editing ([2d enl. ed.). New York: Hastings House.